The 18th annual Cheryl Hannabury Memorial “Celebration of Life” community cocktail party was held Saturday, March 3 at the Ram’s Head Inn. This Island tradition is the biggest yearly fundraiser for The Island Gift of Life Foundation, which helps East End families with uninsured costs during treatment of serious diseases such as travel and lodging expenses for family members to distant treatment centers.
According to Ken Lewis, board president of The Island Gift of Life Foundation, 150 guests attended the party which raised about $30,000. This year’s event featured a silent auction in place of a live auction, and Mr. Lewis said the most successful prize was a trip for 12 to Whitehead light station in Maine. Other items in the auction included a Shelter Island map coffee table created by Hap Bowditch, a photo on canvas piece donated by Island artist Liss Larsen, an arrowhead necklace created by John Pagliaro and one of Brian Cass’ hand-crafted Mahogany Adirondack Chairs.
The Island Gift of Life Foundation was founded in 2001 by Island resident Cheryl Hannabury and a group of her friends. Ms. Hannabury battled Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma for several years and while struggling with the disease, realized how the burden of expenses not covered by insurance added to the stress her family was experiencing. The Island Gift of Life Foundation was created to raise money for uninsured expenses that arose while individuals were being treated for life-threatening illnesses, including the cost of lodging for families and support teams.
One of the first initiatives of the foundation was a blood/bone marrow drive that added 100 names to the bone marrow donor registry. Though the goal was to also find a possible match for Cheryl, she succumbed to the disease before that could happen. Today, the Island Gift of Life Foundation provides financial aid to dozens of East End families each year and continues to fund bone marrow drives, designating $10,000 a year to “Be the Match,” a bone marrow registry.
“A little over $10,000 of the $30,000 [raised at the March 3 party] was specifically raised to continue our support of blood drives and supporting the bone marrow registry and testing,” said Mr. Lewis.